Today’s post is provided by Karla Kurtz, nonprofit consultant.

Are you overwhelmed working in a nonprofit?

Phone calls, emails, grants, meetings, budgets…and that’s just for today!

The solution is delegation, but it’s a dirty word and seen almost as a sign of weakness.  Leaders are putting in tons of overtime, sacrificing family and friends, and putting their own health at risk rather than delegating.  If you’re working 50 hours or more a week on a regular basis, you need to delegate and/or hire more staff.

An internet search quickly yields countless studies on work-related stress and health issues.  I’m no doctor, but do suffer from hypertension, weight gain, sleep apnea, and depression all from being a recovering workaholic and Type-A personality.

Why fear delegation?  There is no one-size-fits-all answer, but two of the most common responses I hear and think are often “code” for some unhealthy choices are:

  1. It’s easier to just do it myself.  Translation:  I’m the only one who has this information.
  2. This is so important it has to be done a certain way.  Translation:  No one can do it like me or to my satisfaction.

It’s hard, but delegation can be learned and it’s a choice.  What are we losing by not delegating?  Sharing information with your staff and allowing them to complete “higher level” tasks is a professional development opportunity which can pay huge short- and long-term dividends in terms of job satisfaction and performance.  What if you’re out sick, go on vacation, move onto a better position, or retire?  Grooming a temporary or permanent replacement allows you to be away from the office without constant interruptions.

Will it be done exactly the way you would do it?  No and that’s ok.  Give a previous or similar document to work from (if possible) and if something has to be changed, explain why and allow them to do it.  Invest in and trust your staff.  There’s only one you, but remember your staff also brings unique perspectives and skills.  Utilize those to your and the organization’s advantage by allowing them to take on more responsibility and ownership.

So shed some weight in 2010 by delegating tasks.

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